Roughly seven years after starring in the critically acclaimed but shortlived Fox program "Wonderfalls,” the Montreal actress returns to the small screen Wednesday with the medical drama "Off the Map.”
It’s touted as a doctors-in-the-jungle adventure drama — melding romance, action, comedy and a bit of exoticism as a trio of young Americans join an understaffed clinic in South America.
Dhavernas says she turned down previous offers to helm a TV series after her disappointing run with "Wonderfalls,” which was cancelled after just a handful of airings despite strong reviews and a grassroots campaign to save the show.
This time, she says the long-term prognosis for "Off the Map” looks good, noting it boasts the impressive track record of executive producer Shonda Rhimes — the creator of "Grey’s Anatomy” and "Private Practice” — and a massive publicity push by ABC."I think they’re giving us a real shot at things with all the publicity that they’re sending out there,”
Dhavernas says from Montreal in a recent interview."They started off by asking us to do six episodes and then they added six more. We’re doing actually 13 in all, so that was already a good sign as well — they’re really loving what they see and publicizing the hell out of it. So, hopefully, that will help us get a real chance in making it.”
Dhavernas stars as Lily Brenner, an idealistic doctor who ventures to the jungle with a genuine desire to do some good. Lily meets up with Dr. Mina Minard, played by Mamie Gummer of "John Adams” (also known as the daughter of Meryl Streep) and Tommy Fuller, played by Zach Gilford of "Friday Night Lights.”
Each young doctor brings along emotional baggage."I think she has a lot to learn about control,”
Dhavernas says of Lily. "She’s very organized and in the jungle you can’t really be organized the same way, you have to go with your instincts and you have to wing it and she has that to learn for sure.”
They are introduced to the legendary and enigmatic Dr. Ben Keeton, played by Martin Henderson, and the mysterious Ryan Clark, played by Montreal’s Rachelle Lefevre.
The series is filmed on location in Hawaii but should appeal to fans of "Grey’s Anatomy,” since Rhimes is "looking at every line that’s being written,”
Still, there’s a humanitarian aspect to the show and a sharper edge that Dhavernas finds unique."There’s more action than there was in ‘Grey’s,’ which is more based on the characters in the hospital, in their homes. We travel more out of the clinic onto calls ... be in to ocean and the jungle.”
After "Wonderfalls,” Dhavernas says she had no real designs on returning to TV and its long hours."I think I tested twice for things but I was reading a lot of pilots every year.... I wasn’t interested in anything,”
says Dhavernas, whose post-"Wonderfalls” gigs included the crime thriller, "Hollywoodland,” Paul Gross’s war epic, "Passchendaele,” and a small part in the HBO miniseries "The Pacific.”"It felt like the same recipes over and over again, like cop shows or doctor shows and this one is a doctor show. I never thought I would be part of one but it was so different, the visuals are different, you know — it’s green, it’s the jungle, it’s not hospital walls so that was really appealing to me.”
Dhavernas cites a lack of publicity as the big reason "Wonderfalls” tanked."I loved doing that show,”
says Dhavernas, also known to Canadian audiences for her starring roles in the 1999 TV movie "Heart: The Marilyn Bell Story” and to francophone fans through the 2000 series, "Tag,” and the 2009 Quebec blockbuster, "De pere en flic.”"It was critically acclaimed and the fans loved it but Fox handled it really silly. It was silly the way that they handled it. There was a change of presidents, it was a very political choice of putting us on at Friday nights, which killed us. There was no publicity.”"On this show, it’s pretty much the opposite. ABC really believes in it, we’ve got billboards all over the place and ads all over ABC and in movie theatres and they’re really pushing it, so, at least we’re going to get a good chance.”
"Off the Map” premieres Wednesday on Global and ABC.SOURCE